Jujube/methods-session-1

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Session 1. What/How/Why of Three Works

Methods_lens-based#Session_One

Darkness, a Sight

Darkness, a Sight is a poem in video, made during an artist residency in Hämeenkyrö, Finland. The scene starts with a piece of paper on the wall that reads: seeing is permanent. Throughout the next five minutes, the viewer sees the hands of a poet attaching words, phrases and stances and covering a part, and sometimes the whole, of the previous text. The poem progresses like this with an echoey atmospheric soundtrack. The camera remains still. The video ends with a black screen, illuminated by a white dot before turning black again.

I wrote the poem in two phases. In the first phase, I collected words and phrases related to the theme I wanted to explore: seeing, permanence, knowledge, darkness, to see, to be seen... I typed them in a document so that each word/phrase/statement inhabited one line. I then cut them up into paper strips of varying areas. In the second phase, I arranged the strips until meanings emerged, for example, "with no shadows can we see." When I finished composing, I printed a new document with the text in an exact order and cut them again. With the camera set up, I assembled the poem on the wall with clear tape. The sound recorded during the filming, including the abrupt ripping of the tape and the noises from the environ, became the base for the soundtrack, processed to emphasize a contemplative quality.

I was inspired by the Finnish November, which led me to think about the relationships between sight and darkness. I chose to make a video because the form suited the continuous reveal of new meanings while keeping the old ones on the same screen. This process mirrored the gradual questioning of my own assumptions about darkness: that we cannot see in it is untrue.

original

Darkness, a Sight is a poem in video, made during an art residency in Hämeenkyrö, Finland. The scene starts with a piece of paper on the wall that reads: seeing is permanent. Throughout the next five minutes, a poet (me) tapes words, phrases and stances — similarly printed on pieces of paper — to cover a part or the whole of the previous piece. The viewer sees

I wrote the poem by cutting and collaging words printed on a piece of paper. The words I gathered included: seeing, permanence, blind, darkness, and the phrases: to see, can we see, to be seen. Once I finished composing, I printed the final text, cut the paper and grouped the strips into stances with precise order. The camera was set in front of the area of text. During the filming, I attached each strip to the wall. I later processed the sound of tape ripping and other noises from the environ as the track for the video.

I was inspired by the Finnish November, which led me to think about the relationships between sight and darkness. I chose make a video because it was the most fitting for the continuous reveal of new meanings while keeping the old ones on the same screen, a process that mirrored the gradual questioning of my own assumptions about darkness.

a lichen dreams (again)

Written during my residency on an arctic island, a lichen dreams (again) is a story about the ecology of death told from a lichen’s inner monologue. The lichen woke from a thousand years of hibernation to witness the destruction of a village swallowed by the sea. But just as the lichen prepared itself to live again, it was consumed by a reindeer. The story consists of text and images printed on 4x6cm glossy photo papers and assembled into a store-bought photo album. The images were composites from the landscape with varying degrees of abstractness, expressing what the lichen might "see."

The story came to me on a quiet, early morning, when I sat down to write something from my extensive hikes on the island and overheard dinner conversations about the history of local fishing villages.

I had been moved by the landscape and the fragility of life in an extreme climate. The words came through me and onto the page. I chose the form of a photo album — a once-popular mechanism to record memories — to evoke a reading experience. By flipping through the album, do we witness a past event, knowing everything we see in the moment — though fictional — has vanished from life?

original

Written during my residency on an arctic island, a lichen dreams (again) is a story about the ecology of death told from a lichen’s perspective. The story consists of text and images printed on 4x6cm photo papers and assembled into a store-bought photo album.

The story came to me on a quiet, early morning, when I sat down to write something from my extensive hikes on the island and overheard dinner conversations about the history of local fishing villages.

I had been moved by the landscape and the fragility of life in an extreme climate. The words came through me onto the page. I chose the form of a photo album to evoke a reading experience akin to witnessing an event.

Towards the Unknown

I began to develop an artistic practice through multiple artist residencies and travels in 2017. Towards the Unknown is the collection of three essays born out of that period.

In Count Not the Days, but Places I wrote about my first few months in Mexico after moving from New York. In the essay, I recounted my relationship with Mexico from previous visits, which contributed to my decision of the move, and my uncertainty about a newly-public identity as a writer. I made A Place to Live (and a Song) public a few months after its intended publishing date, after falling ill in Mexico and having to return China. Coincidentally, the essay wove together my experiences as a Chinese, New Yorker, and new dweller in Mexico City. The last essay, Aeolian Reminiscences, was written after my recovery and subsequent residency in Norway, in which regaining health and the ability to appreciate appetite and solitude resounded.

At the time of writing, these essays were a place for me to collect and ground myself. Looking back on them after a year, they have turned into a snapshot of a young artist who tries to reconcile her fragmented past and, as the title of the collection suggests, an unknown future. She did so by materializing her vulnerabilities (as well as the concealment of it) in these written words.

original

Towards the Unknown is the collection of three essays I wrote during the year I traveled around the world and participated in various artist residencies. The essays document my perceptions of new places and moments of discovery and sureness as well as those of doubt and uncertainty.

I wrote two of them in Mexico, when I was a resident at Pandeo, and one in Norway, when I joined a group of artists in Sørøya, Finnmark. I spent around one week writing and editing each of them before publishing them on Medium.com.

I decided to spend 2017 grounding myself in the identity of an artist. The transition was difficult to grasp, and, as I have done whenever I attempt to find clarity, I turned to writing. to process the world around and inside of me. Each time I go through this process, I produce a collection of text. Towards the Unknown is the most recent addition to that.